In a wild game last Wednesday night, the #12 women’s lacrosse team defeated the #1 Cal Poly Mustangs 11-10 at Harder Stadium.
The game had everything: back and forth scoring, a roaring crowd, a come from behind rally, two fantastic teams and sprinklers.
It was a day of destiny for the Gauchos. A swift three-goal lead from Cal Poly at the start of the game did not faze Santa Barbara. A last minute blitzkrieg from the #1 squad in the nation couldn’t stop them. Even Harder Stadium itself tried and failed when in the middle of the second half the sprinkler system went on. Indeed, the half-hour delay only served to heighten the drama.
The beginning of the game, though, couldn’t have been more different. Cal Poly opened up a three-goal lead on the Gauchos, smothering Santa Barbara’s potent offense and pelting senior goalie Melissa Shaw with shot after shot. For 10 straight minutes the Mustangs dominated the game in what seemed to be the beginning of a blowout.
And then sophomore Katie Gong snuck by Cal Poly’s vaunted defense and got UCSB on the board.
“That was a huge goal. That’s when everything turned around for us, getting that goal,” Head Coach Diana Garcia said.
After another Gaucho goal, sophomore captain Candace West ignited Harder Stadium with the tying score, putting the Mustangs on their heels and reinvigorating the crowd and sidelines. The Gauchos capped off their dazzling run with a beautiful long pass from sophomore defender Emily Preiss to freshman Brooke Julicher, who sprang into Cal Poly’s zone and scored to give Santa Barbara its first lead of the game. Preiss followed up her assist a minute later by scoring her own goal to give UCSB a 5-3 lead.
“I play defense, so I don’t score much, but the opportunity was there,” Preiss said.
A back and forth battle ensued, with Cal Poly playing catch up and the Gauchos matching the Mustangs each time to make the score 7-5 in favor of UCSB at the half. The scoring would continue until midway through the second half when, with Santa Barbara leading 9-8, Harder’s sprinklers came on in the Gauchos’ backfield. After some deliberation, the officials decided to wait out the sprinklers and resume the game.
“We all wanted this one. We definitely wanted to keep going,” West said.
Santa Barbara scored first, with the Mustangs answering right back. Cal Poly would then tie it up on a penalty shot late in the period. Soon after another penalty was assessed on UCSB, but Shaw would halt Cal Poly’s momentum with a huge save. Gong recovered the rebound and went on to score the game winning goal with 1:38 remaining.
“Everyone just erupted,” Garcia said.
Julicher led UCSB in scoring with four goals, followed by Wade and Gong, who each had two. Shaw made eight saves in the match.
The Gauchos are now 4-0 after demolishing their first three opponents by a combined score of 51-4. They host the 16th annual Santa Barbara Shootout Lacrosse Tournament this weekend.